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Forming machines


Forming machines

FormBalancer Umformmaschinen von Fluid Forming in Produktionshalle

A variety of forming machines are used to form metals and thermoplastics. The spectrum ranges from presses and bending machines to rolling machines. In addition, there are numerous models within these categories that differ in their specific functionality. For example, companies use special machines without a stamp for hydroforming.

All forming machines are characterized by the fact that they bring the raw part into a desired shape. In this process, the machine does not add anything to the raw part, nor does it remove any material: the shape changes, the weight remains the same. This distinguishes forming machines from other production machines such as milling machines.


Forming machines: These variants exist 

Forming machines can be divided into several main categories:

  • Presses

  • Drawing machines

  • Rolling machines

  • Bending machines

These machine types are each suitable for one or more forming processes. Presses are used, for example, in drop forging, deep drawing and hydroforming. In principle, machine tools can also be equipped with several different tools, so that they combine different forming techniques.

Example: Forming machines in hydroforming

In the innovative process of hydroforming, most companies use forming machines equipped with a hydraulic press. This applies, among other things, to the FormBalancer from FF Fluid Forming GmbH. There are similarities with these forming machines to machines that carry out classic deep drawing. These variants are also based on pressing technology.

However, there is an important difference: the FormBalancer and other machines for hydroforming do not require a tool stamp, this function is performed by an active medium. This increases flexibility and is particularly recommended if companies want to produce prototypes and small series.

Requirements for forming machines

When companies want to purchase a forming machine, numerous aspects deserve attention. Which forming process do you want to use? What kind of components do you want to manufacture? What quantities are you aiming for? Which quality criteria are relevant for factors such as the surface finish?

The FormBalancer from Fluid Forming is recommended, for example, for complex components that companies produce as prototypes or small series. This forming machine proves to be efficient, among other things, in rapid prototyping.

When choosing the right forming machine, cost efficiency plays an important role. The advantage of hydroforming machines is that there is no need to produce a punch. This speeds up the preparation process and reduces costs.

Another criterion can be the construction. Compact machines take up little space. At best, forming machines can be used to perform a wide range of tasks, while multifunctional machines save the purchase of additional systems. With the appropriate special equipment, the FormBalancer can be used for forming metal blanks and tubes.

Frequently asked questions about forming machines

  • What are forming machines?

    These machines implement one or more forming processes such as deep drawing, bending or hydroforming. The term forming machine is a generic term: there are numerous variants!

  • What presses are there?

    Presses can be classified in many ways. An important difference is whether the presses are displacement, energy or force-bound. Power presses include hydraulic presses found in many forming machines. Hydraulic presses provide valuable services in various forming processes.

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Sheet metal forming


Sheet metal forming

Formteile für Autotüren durch Blechumformung hergestellt und im Werk als Teil der Autoherstellung aufgereiht

Sheet metal forming is a subcategory of forming technology. It is characterized by the type of workpiece: In contrast to wire and solid forming, sheet metal forming only uses sheet metal. These sheets include all raw metal parts whose thickness is significantly less than the length and width. The flat pieces of metal can be processed using a variety of forming processes.


Basics of sheet metal forming

When forming sheet metal, the same principles apply as for wire and bulk forming. Forming is based solely on the application of force – adding or subtracting material is not necessary with this technique. The mass remains the same, only the shape changes. With this approach, companies secure a number of advantages:

  • optimal use of material

  • efficient production

  • stress-oriented fiber flow

Sheet metal forming is important in these areas

  • Automotive industry

    Sheet metal forming is used in the automotive industry to produce body parts such as doors, hoods, fenders and roofs.

  • Aerospace industry

    In the aerospace industry, sheet metal forming is used to manufacture aircraft parts such as wings, fuselage panels and engine cases.

  • Electronics industry

    Sheet metal forming is also used in the electronics industry to create housings for electronic devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets.

  • Medical device industry

    In the medical device industry, sheet metal forming is used to manufacture housings, brackets, and other parts.

  • Household appliance industry

    In the household appliance industry, sheet metal forming is used to manufacture housings and components for household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers.

Sheet metal forming processes provide valuable services in numerous industrial sectors. This includes the automotive industry, which requires a wide range of formed components. Examples are fenders, doors and trunk lids. Parts shaped by sheet metal forming can also be found in large household appliances, furniture, sanitary facilities and cooking accessories. This applies, among other things, to housings, covers, extractor hoods, sinks and saucepans. Food cans are also the result of a forming process.

The most common methods at a glance

Numerous specific forming processes are possible for sheet metal forming. These procedures can be classified according to different criteria. For example, if the temperature is below the recrystallization temperature of the workpiece, it is cold forming. This variant is widespread when forming sheet metal, the alternatives hot forming and warm forming play a subordinate role.

In addition, the forming techniques for sheet metal can be subdivided according to the type of force applied. There are the following basic types of forming (prominent examples of the respective technique can be found in brackets):

  • Pressure forming (rolling, free forming)

  • Tension compression forming (deep drawing, drawing through, pressing)

  • Forming (lengths, depths, widths)

  • Shear forming (shifting, twisting)

  • Bending (free bending, die bending, roll bending)

Choosing the best sheet metal forming process depends on a number of factors. What is the sheet metal thickness of the raw part? How complex is the geometry of the desired workpiece? What requirements do companies place on surface quality? How quickly can the workpieces be produced? What are the costs? Engineers deal with these and other questions during the planning phase. Simulation programs provide valuable help in answering these questions. As part of the prototype construction, those responsible can specifically check whether the respective quality goals can be achieved.

In addition, the forming techniques for sheet metal can be subdivided according to the type of force applied. There are the following basic types of forming (prominent examples of the respective technique can be found in brackets):

Deep drawing as an example

A popular forming process is deep drawing as a sub-category of pull-compression forming. This technology is used, among other things, in the forming of car body parts. Deep drawing is an example of a huge number of forming techniques. This special form can be realized in three variants:

  • with forming tools such as stamps

  • with active media such as liquids

  • with active energy such as magnetic fields

Companies often use fixed tools in presses. Combinations with other forming processes are also widespread. A combination of stretch and deep drawing is suitable for large sheet metals, which are required in areas such as aircraft construction. Stretch forming has the advantage that large sheet metal can be processed with this process. But there is a lack of drawing depth. Manufacturers solve this problem with additional deep drawing.

Hydroforming: The innovative process offers these advantages

Hydroforming is also a modern technique in sheet metal forming, which has several advantages over deep drawing. Sheet metal hydroforming is a high-pressure forming process in which sheet metal blanks are given the desired shape using a fluid and high pressure. Companies prefer this process to deep drawing if they want to secure the following advantages:

  • Savings of up to 80%

  • High surface quality

  • Short development time of tools & prototypes

  • Complex geometries & modern design

As with all forming processes, the specific choice depends on the detailed requirement profile. The impressive repeat accuracy of hydroforming proves to be important, especially for complex components. Deviations can result in components being incompatible or not reliably performing their function. Manufacturing precision is a key criterion when choosing the process. In the case of products such as a cooking pot, minimal deviations can usually be tolerated: Many companies prefer other processes here.

In-house solution or outsourcing

As with all metal forming processes, the question arises as to whether manufacturers should use their own machines or outsource this production step. The fact that companies retain complete control over the production process and remain independent of suppliers speaks for in-house production. On the other hand, they need the appropriate machines and employees to operate these machines. If these forming machines have not been available up until now, companies have had to bear high investment costs. They also lose flexibility because they can only carry out certain forming processes with one machine. There are good reasons to leave sheet metal forming to specialists like FLUID forming.

Frequently asked questions about sheet metal forming

  • What is sheet metal forming?

    In sheet metal forming, machines force flat sheet metal blanks into the desired shape. Only the shape of the sheet changes, the mass does not change in contrast to other processes such as chip-removing processes. The force can be applied by mechanical tools, liquids and air, among other things.

  • What forming processes are there?

    Sheet metal can be formed using a variety of processes. Compressive, tensile compressive, tensile, shearing and bending techniques are possible. Common sheet metal forming processes are deep drawing, rolling and hydroforming. When choosing the ideal technology, numerous aspects such as the complexity of the desired geometry and the desired surface quality are of interest. The dimensions of the sheet metal blank to be processed also deserve attention.

  • How can you check whether a sheet metal is suitable for forming?

    When it comes to suitability for forming, low strength and high elongation at break are particularly important. Depending on the forming process, other factors can also play a role. In practice, different test methods have been established for the various techniques.

  • Which materials can be formed with hydroforming?

    Manufacturers use this type of sheet metal forming for aluminum, brass, steel, stainless steel and copper, among other things. Suppliers such as FLUID forming carry out a detailed feasibility analysis before processing the order – for this they use innovative simulation programs for sheet metal or solid forming.

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Hydroforming Formteilherstellung mit dem Fluid Forming FormBalancer

Hydroforming is an innovative high-pressure forming process that is based on the use of an active medium. With this method, pipes and sheet metal blanks can be brought into the desired shape. When processing circuit boards, hydroforming has proven to be an effective alternative or supplement to conventional deep-drawing.


What is hydroforming?

In this process, a machine uses a liquid medium under high pressure to form the respective molded part. The FormBalancer forming machine from FLUID Forming uses a forming pressure of up to 4,000 bar for this purpose.

The term hydroforming has different meanings, which can lead to confusion. Basically, it acts as a generic term for the two variants internal high-pressure forming (IHU) and external high-pressure forming (AHU). Hydroforming is often used as a synonym for both hydroforming and hydroforming. Both variants can be implemented with Fluid Forming Technology.

With the FormBalancer, the company FLUID Forming presents a machine with which both hydroforming variants can be implemented. The industrial company is not only limited to the much more common hydroforming, but also focuses in particular on tailor-made solutions in the area of ​​AHU.

A comparison of hydroforming and deep drawing

Modern hydroforming processes and classic deep drawing can be used for the same purpose: the forming of sheet metal blanks. Despite certain similarities, the approach differs fundamentally. Hydroforming is an active media-based forming process without a stamp. Instead of a stamp, the metal blank is formed into a cavity using water power. In contrast, in deep drawing, a stamp is used to form a sheet metal blank into a cavity.

Due to these different procedures, hydroforming performs better than deep drawing in several respects. A major advantage is the high surface quality after forming. With hydroforming you avoid classic deep-drawing marks, subsequent work is only necessary in exceptional cases. Another advantage is the optimized material thickness distribution over the entire surface. In addition, speed advantages in tool and prototype construction as well as financial advantages in tool investment costs speak in favor of hydroforming.

How does hydroforming work?

In hydroforming, the forming takes place with a liquid active medium. This requires a high forming pressure – the company FLUID Forming, for example, works with a forming pressure of up to 4,000 bar. High clamping forces of up to 8,000 tons can be used to ensure the forming process. Due to the high closing forces, no additional sealants are required.

What are the advantages of hydroforming?

Hydroforming offers advantages in terms of surface quality, implementation of complex geometries and tool cost savings of up to 80%. You also benefit from the time factor: With hydroforming, prototypes can be produced within 6-8 weeks. This forming process therefore belongs to the rapid prototyping category.

Which industries use hydroforming?

Hydroforming impresses with its versatility: In this way, components for a wide range of industries can be produced. The customer base of companies like FLUID Forming is correspondingly diverse. The Lower Saxony specialist works, for example, with customers from the automotive industry, electromobility, the aircraft industry and medical technology.

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